Anne Arundel County Sheriff Robert Pepersack usually delivers summonses. Today, the County Council turns the tables on him.
At the council's request, County Attorney Judson P. Garrett Jr. said he will deliver a subpoena to Mr. Pepersack, ordering him to appear May 4 to explain why his office has run over budget for the second straight year.
The sheriff said yesterday that he won't stage a showdown; he'll come quietly.
"I'm frustrated," he said, referring to his budget dispute with the council and County Executive Robert R. Neall. "When I was elected, I thought the biggest challenge I would have was professionalizing this office. Instead, it's all these political boulders in the road."
The seven-member council voted unanimously to subpoena Mr. Pepersack Monday night, after he walked out of a hearing on his request for a last-minute transfer of $184,700 to his office.
Veteran county officials say this is the first time the council has used its subpoena power in the 28-year history of charter government.
Mr. Pepersack waited with a group of deputies for an hour Monday, until 8:30 p.m., when Council Chairman David G. Boschert, a Crownsville Democrat, postponed the hearing for 1 1/2 hours. The sheriff left and never returned. When the transfer bill came before the council, there was no one from the sheriff's office to answer questions.
"I went home," Mr. Pepersack said. "They didn't need me to vote on this bill."
Because he had addressed the budget at earlier hearings, Mr. Pepersack said he did not know he had to be present.
Besides, "I was a little put out, yeah. I was publicly placed in the position of being a beggar pleading for crumbs. I was told to go out and wait until they were ready to have a little piece of me."
"The council did the right thing," Council Vice Chairman Carl G. "Dutch" Holland, a Pasadena Republican, said yesterday. "It was a direct insult to the council. Whether [Mr. Pepersack, also a Republican] was first on the agenda or last on the agenda, common sense should have told him to be there."
Monday night, Mr. Boschert said he was "appalled" at the sheriff.
Though Mr. Pepersack's agency received the largest increase of any county department last year, he insists he was not given enough money to run his office, which provides courtroom security, transports prisoners and serves legal papers. An increase in the number of Circuit Court sessions forced him to extend his budget for overtime, he said.
The sheriff needs at least $140,000 to keep his office open through June 30, the end of the fiscal year. Like all county sheriffs in Maryland, Mr. Pepersack is an elected official.